Karen M. Winkelman

The LifeCrafting Guide

Intuitive Consultant for Your Personal,
Professional and Creative Life

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by Karen Winkelman Friday, March 31, 2017

Joh in a tux with the words "For John, where he may beMy Best Friend died a year ago today. March 31, 2016; his sister let me know that day.

I thought I handled it well.

Was I shocked and surprised?


My best friend was gone.

John was gone.


Someone who had been an important part of my life for most of my life had left the stage. Final curtain.

It took a while for the reality to settle in.

Things I wanted to say to him remained on the vine to dry and float away in the next breeze.

John was gone. How could this be?

John was gone. How did he slip away without me knowing?

We used to be so much in tune with each other. Twins from different parents. Born the same year, 3 ½ weeks apart.

How did I not know you were preparing to leave this realm for your next great adventure?


Oh John, I miss you.

You could make me laugh till I could hardly breathe and I hurt all over.

You could weave a brilliant story out of the most mundane particle.

You could create wondrous (or horrific) worlds from wisps of ideas. A thought, a phrase, a picture, an off-hand comment could launch you into a thought-provoking and often side-splitting monologue.


I miss you.

I miss late night – all night - chats over wine or brandy or, occasionally, cognac.

I miss reading your first, second, third and whatever drafts of your current novel, story or play... offering my thoughts and comments when I felt I had something to add to the mix.

I miss the hours we shared on the phone, talking about nothing and everything, when I wasn’t living near enough to hang out with you in person.

My smile spreads across my face as I remember my mother saying that the only person she ever met who could talk more than me was you, John.

So it makes sense that time together flew by as we got lost in conversation and camaraderie.

I miss your voice.

I miss your letters and cards and surprise gifts.

I miss our hand-written coast-to-coast correspondence as the world of Jack took root and grew strong.

I miss going to events with you.


I miss walks in the neighborhood, wandering around Manhattan, and dining with you (whether sampling something you made special for me or at a restaurant we both enjoyed).

And so many crazy, fun times when we were younger.

Ancient graveyards after dark anyone?


I miss your laughter… wickedly insane.

And I miss you cheering me on or inspiring me.

I miss your art.

Your paintings have all disappeared. So odd.

I still have all the stones you gave me and some fabulous crystal necklaces. One crystal in particular adorns my neck frequently.

The double terminated clear quartz, with an etched sterling band set with a smoky blue topaz.

You said it reminded you of me – pale and ancient!

Always a way with words, dearest. It is by far my favorite.

Thank you for that treasure.  


So alike… and yet so different.

We were mirrors reflecting each other’s gifts.

Always encouraging, inspiring, prodding, nudging and pushing each other to dream, dare, explore and create.

I saw your brilliance like a sun bursting with light. Apparently you saw something similar in me. Kindred spirits with a long past life history.

We were different than most people we knew and so we bonded.

We spoke the same language, or at least similar dialects! 


We both walked the razor’s edge and came back, more than once.

Even in our times apart, you were living in my heart.

And when we’d reconnect, it was like no time had passed at all.


You, Dear John, were one of the few that gets me.

And you have told me that when I gave you the turtle card (I think we were 13) you knew I got you.

It was fun exploring magic and metaphysics with you, sharing the stage, philosophizing and writing.

And it was often uncanny how we completed each other’s sentences.

Although it would freak people out.


I miss you.

Truth be told, I started missing you before you left this realm.

Although you fought hard, you never fully came back from that terrible car accident which broke so much of your body.

The pain killers and medications only served to make your bones more brittle. Surgeries impeded your breathing.

It became harder to have conversations. You were in so much pain and discomfort.

Yet you clung to hope. And so did I.


You even stopped writing for a while.

I was so excited a couple of years ago when you dusted off The BIG Project that stole your heart decades past.

You started researching and writing again.

This was a deep subject that you could weave your magic into and poke at established beliefs, provoke dialog and perhaps awaken new awareness.

And it wasn’t about vampires!

We talked about this book so many times that it felt real to me.

You sent me the first chapter or so to read in 2014.

Yes! He’s writing this. For real.

I can’t wait to read John’s vision on paper.

But alas, it is not to be in this life.

A loss.

For me and for the countless others it would have beckoned to.


I miss you.

John smoking a pipeFor those who did not know my friend John Sumakis, he was a brilliant writer and possessed one of the sharpest minds I ever knew.

He has written a best-selling vampire series (Bound in Blood, if you are into that kind of thing), under a pseudonym David Thomas Lord.

His vampires are dark and dangerous; something to be feared, not romanticized.

Ahhh, and the way he tells a story and paints images with prose would be appreciated in the finest literary circles, if it wasn’t horror fiction.

He wrote provocative short stories too.

And he wrote, directed and acted in plays. That’s how we met those long years ago, cast in a show together as youngsters!

I don’t think either of us was ever young though.

Old souls in young bodies, yes.

Actual kids… um not so much!


John was also a dancer and an artist;

his leaps as graceful as a gazelle,

his large canvasses captivating.

He loved opera and classical music… even as a teenager. I liked it too, but I was more into heavy rock (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and so many others) and folk-rock.


While he loved his art, I think, sometimes, that he loved his family, and possibly his close friends, even more.

John was devoted to his family and often fell into the caretaker mode.

Although he had no kids of his own, he adored his nieces; helping to raise two of them for a while.

At Halloween, I think his nieces had the best homemade costumes on the block, thanks to John’s many talents!


Understanding the fragility of creative talent, artists and visionaries, John took many a new writer or dancer under his wing.

He loved to mentor and coax talent to shine and share their gifts.

And, perhaps even more importantly, he tried to help creatives to believe in themselves as much as he believed in them.

Sort of a Johnny Appleseed in the writing world, planting seeds of encouragement and refinement so that one day they would grow strong roots, step into their true voice and flourish.


His nurturing of family, friends and talent spread out into the plant kingdom as well.

He loved to garden.

Like the colors he’d lavish upon a canvas to create an image to evoke a feeling,

John used herbs, vegetables and flowers to create living landscapes

to enjoy and be nourished by.


Caring, generous to a fault, funny, witty, sarcastic, sometimes caustic, loving, kind,

brilliant, critical, talented, deep, misunderstood, original, adventurous, irreverent,

iconoclastic, wise, lonely, intense, showman, trooper, true friend…

all words that describe aspects of John but only scratch the surface of this complex person (and personality) in its entirety.


Karen and John - world horror conAhhh, John,

my water dragon twin traveler through time and space.

I love you and I miss you.

When you died,

I shut down for longer than I ever expected.

It was as if a piece of me had died and dissolved away.


Grief is an interesting creature.

It can follow you around day-in-day-out for days, weeks, years, pulling at you.

Draining the color out of your life.

It can run in cycles that feel like you are surfing waves of intense emotion then bottoming out in numbness.

It can lie dormant, fooling you into believing you have processed and moved through grief’s tricky terrain, only to erupt again when least expected.


Time stopped for me.

I drifted in and out of this timeless void.

I postponed or outright stopped doing some things in my life and my business.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want or need to do these things;

it was more like a part of me just didn’t have the bandwidth or inclination to deal with it:

“I don’t feel like it. No, I don’t feel up to it. Not today, anyway. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not at all. Maybe I’m just done.”


Ennui set in for a spell, followed by a dash of depression.

Sometimes tears would flow. Mostly not. 

John was gone.

A small (or maybe not so small) piece of me went with him.

But I cannot travel where he is traveling now.

I choose to live, stay here on this blue planet a bit longer.

My work isn’t done.

So I finally called that piece of me back to me.


Even knowing what I know and being able to communicate with the spirit world and knowing that death is only a transition, it is still hard to lose someone who means so much to you.

The human part of me grieves for my animal companions, friends and family members who pass, and other losses in life.

Over the course of my life, I have lost a lot of people and animal friends, some quite tragically.

Yet somehow, John’s passing hit me harder than I ever expected.

It really did take me out for chunks of time.

I’d be ok, coping well and then splat.


This last year (2016), while we worked the 9 vibration of letting go, completion, endings, truth, compassion and forgiveness, I fell into a Dark Night of the Soul.

John’s passing added to the intensity and depth of it.

Everything came under the microscope of reevaluation and relevancy.

At another time I’ll share more on the perfect storm of events that led to this Dark Night of the Soul and my inner expedition through it.

This piece is about and for John.

Yeah, I survived my Dark Night. Yay me! And I am coming up out of the ashes now.


I still miss John, and now this month, I’ve finally been able to connect with him on the other side.

We’re OK.

I’ll talk more about that in another post.

So my dear, dear friend John, I dedicate this to you and your memory.

I surround you with love and gratitude.

I surround Rita and the girls, George & Kati, Mimi, and the rest of your family, my “other family”, with a blanket of love and hugs.

You made my world a richer place, a magical place, and I thank you for it... and the gift of your friendship and love.

I still miss you for all the reasons stated and more that I chose to keep private… but I also know you still live in my heart and you are only a thought away.

Stir the pot, my friend. Fly high and enjoy your new adventure.

We will meet again.


Posted by Karen Winkelman on Friday, March 31, 2017 8:44 PM
Categories: Gratitude, Self-Awareness
Tags: (No Tags)
On Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 3:57 AM
Rita M said...
"A beautiful and inspiring tribute for my brother John from his dearest friend. I am trying to find words but only one remains in my head Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this Karen. Love and miss you ?"
On Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 5:18 AM
Janice said...
"Dear John:I didn't know you well however I considered you a part of the family as you attended many family events along side my sister Karen. I knew how much you meant to her and her to you. You were a fabulous writer and I love Jack Courbet and would have cherished to meet him, the regal, sort of elegant vampire that he was! The world of writers and the world of readers lost a valuable essence when you moved on to the world of spirit. May you rest in peace and I hope you are having a fabulous time in heaven! Looking forward to meeting you again in another life!"
On Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 4:12 PM
Karen said...
"Dear Rita, thank you for you kind words. Thank you for sharing your brother with me! And making me feel at home in your family. I love and miss you too. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have thought I should call Rita. Some day I will actually call and surprise you :)"
On Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 4:18 PM
Karen said...
"Dear Janice, thank you for your beautiful comments and thoughts about and to John. I am sure he's grinning and graciously thanking you. You (out of all of our siblings) would have enjoyed talking with John and getting to know him better. You'd get his sense of humor and be able to follow his lightning quick mind. Love you :) 3"
On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 4:07 AM
Mandy said...
"What a beautiful tribute, Karen. My eyes are all wet ?? ????"
On Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:41 PM
Eliott Kahn said...
"Thanks for sharing this beautiful, heartfelt tribute, Karen. May your grief and loss be lessened over time. Take care, Eliott"
On Friday, April 21, 2017 at 3:12 PM
Karen said...
"Thank you Mandy!"
On Friday, April 21, 2017 at 3:13 PM
Karen said...
"Thank you Eliott. Love and blessings to you"
On Monday, October 28, 2019 at 7:59 PM
Nathan Tompkins said...
"I was one of John's mentees. He was always supportive of both my poetry and fiction. I miss him, dearly. I remember how excited he was to be working on that project. He was talking about research and writing and you can see it in his tone how he was a like a kid with his erector play set. it breaks my heart he never got to finish. It's a crime, really."
On Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 11:17 PM
Karen said...
"Nathan, thank you for sharing about your work with John. He was amazing, and I remember him mentioning that he was mentoring someone. Yes, the world is missing his magnificent untold story. Yet perhaps it was time for some of the concepts to be shared. Maybe he'll be finishing this in his next life! Wishing you well with your writing journey. Peace."

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